Eye on Extremism: August 13

NBC News: A Former White Supremacist's Warning: No One's Properly Addressing Online Extremism

“When Mak Kapetanovic saw the screed connected to the alleged gunman who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, he immediately recognized the obscure internet references and the racist ideology. Kapetanovic, 22, of Jacksonville, Florida, once subscribed to those beliefs and frequented the same dark corners of the internet that are now the target of international condemnation. Since Christchurch, two more mass shootings have been connected to internet-fueled extremism. But Kapetanovic got out. “I grew up on the same memes that probably the New Zealand shooter did,” he said. “And a lot of the same ideas were fed to both of us, but he killed 50 people, and now I'm fighting against that ideology.” Internet-born race-based extremism has emerged as a national topic of discussion due primarily to recent public acts of mass violence by people who also posted ideological screeds that provided a roadmap to how they were radicalized. Those screeds have detailed how both mainstream platforms and fringe internet forums can lead people — most notably young men — to white supremacist rhetoric. Researchers have found that the digital ecosystem that has fostered and promoted extremist content has evolved over a handful of years, thanks in part to platforms like YouTube that have been financially incentivized to recommend videos with the most emotional impact to its users.”

CNN: Yemen's Civil War Within A Civil War

“Last Wednesday, fighting broke out in the coastal city of Aden, the temporary seat of the internationally recognized government of Yemen. But this time it was not the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, as has usually been the case in the country's past four years of brutal civil war. Instead, factions within the coalition took arms against each other, killing dozens and threatening the alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. By Sunday, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (backed by the UAE) was effectively in control of Aden and its nominal ally, the government of exiled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi (backed by Saudi Arabia), was nowhere to be seen. In four days of days of fighting between the southern separatists and the president's forces, 40 people were killed and 260 injured. As the separatists made gains, the Saudi-led coalition intervened to defend the government, hitting an empty field at the presidential palace after the separatists took control of it. The southerners took the airstrike as a warning shot and left the palace, but remained in control of Aden.”

The New York Times: F.B.I. Wants To Interrogate Egyptian Man In Brazil, Citing Qaeda Links

“The F.B.I. on Monday said it was seeking to interrogate an Egyptian man who arrived in Brazil last year, calling him a suspected operative for Al Qaeda who has been involved in planning attacks against the United States. Hours after the bureau issued a notice seeking information about the man, Mohamed Ahmed Elsayed Ahmed Ibrahim, the Brazilian government said in a statement that it “stands ready to cooperate with authorities in the United States” in this case. The statement also said Mr. Ibrahim, 42, had arrived in Brazil in 2018 and was living there lawfully. Neither government said where in the country Mr. Ibrahim had settled. Brazil’s Justice Ministry in late July issued a new regulation giving the government greater authority to expel foreigners who were deemed dangerous. It was not immediately clear whether that measure was related to the F.B.I.’s interest in Mr. Ibrahim. The F.B.I. bulletin warned that Mr. Ibrahim should be considered armed and dangerous. The bulletin did not suggest he was facing criminal charges, but terrorism charges are often filed under seal. The notice, which was issued by the bureau’s New York field office, says Mr. Ibrahim is suspected of “providing material support to Al Qaeda since approximately 2013.”

NBC News: Charlottesville's White Supremacists Are Being Targeted By A Law That Took Down The KKK

“Two years ago Monday, hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in the so-called “Unite the Right” rally. What they came to do was not peacefully protest the removal of a Confederate statue as advertised, but orchestrate a weekend of racially motivated violence and hate. The bloodshed and animus did not end there. Instead, the cycle of white nationalist violence has continued to this day, devastating Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, California; and, most recently, El Paso, Texas. The law enforcement is finally intensifying its work to track and disrupt these groups, and legislators are considering stronger laws to combat domestic terrorism. But already, citizens themselves possess tools to fight back. And that’s what my organization, Integrity First for America, is doing. A number of federal and state civil rights statutes allow victims to file suit against those who commit hate crimes. Integrity First for America is working with a coalition of Charlottesville community members injured in the Unite the Right rally to sue the two dozen individuals and organizations responsible. By holding the perpetrators accountable in court, we have the potential to bankrupt and dismantle the groups at the center of this violent movement.”

Financial Times: US Troop Drawdown Complicated By Afghanistan’s Resurgent Taliban

“Almost two decades after the US invaded Afghanistan, President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to end America’s longest-running war. “I want to get out of these crazy wars that we should have never been in,” he said late last month as Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, made clear that it would be “job enhancing” if the roughly 14,000 troops had withdrawn from Afghanistan before next year’s US presidential election. If, and when, these forces fly home, the task of confronting the resurgent Taliban would be left to the government in Kabul. The Islamist movement, which controls Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade, now by some estimates holds more territory than at any point since it was ousted by the US invasion. Some analysts believe a full US withdrawal could unleash a repeat of the brutal civil war and Taliban rule that followed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Self-interested neighbours would step into the vacuum, experts say, echoing the “Great Game” rivalry between the UK and Russia for control of Afghanistan in the 19th century. “The Pakistanis and Chinese [would be] the major beneficiaries” of a US withdrawal, said Harsh Pant, foreign policy analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian think-tank.”

United States

NBC News: Dayton Shooter's Friend Bought Body Armor, Gun Accessories Used In Deadly Attack, Prosecutors Say

“A longtime friend of Dayton shooter Connor Betts allegedly bought the body armor, 100-round magazine and a firearm accessory used in the deadly attack that killed nine people, officials said Monday. Ethan Kollie, 24, of the Dayton suburb of Kettering, was charged with two offenses, not connected to the Aug. 4 massacre — falsely denying that he was a drug user when buying a handgun for himself in May, and then possession of a firearm while unlawfully using drugs. But Kollie's weapons played no role in the mass shooting, investigators said. And authorities also emphasized that Kollie appeared to play no part in the planning of Betts' mass shooting in the early morning of Aug. 4. “To be clear, there is no evidence and allegation in this criminal complaint that Kollie intentionally participated in the planning of Betts' Aug. 4 shooting,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio said. “I don't want that to be misconstrued.” Court documents said Kollie bought the equipment and kept them in his apartment “to assist Betts in hiding them from Betts' parents.” In addition to the body armor and magazine, Kollie also purchased for Betts an “upper receiver of the AR-15 weapon,” according to a criminal complaint.”

New York Daily News: Attorneys For Alleged Terrorist Sayfullo Saipov Demand Feds Reveal Wiretaps With ISIS Supporters Or Drop Death Penalty For Hudson River Bike Path Attack

“The feds must reveal “years-long” wiretaps between ISIS supporters and accused Hudson River bike path terrorist Sayfullo Saipov or drop the death penalty for the attack that killed eight, his attorneys write in new papers. Saipov’s federal defenders have fought for access to the wiretaps for over eight months, arguing that information from the secret conversations was used by investigators interrogating the alleged terrorist at Bellevue Hospital immediately after the October 2017 attack with a rental pickup truck. In new papers, federal defender David Patton argues that Saipov’s alleged “ISIS-related motivations” are critical to the case against capital punishment. “The government must make a choice: its death penalty or its secrecy,” Patton wrote in a letter filed Friday in Manhattan Federal Court. “The degree to which Mr. Saipov was influenced by a community of people who embraced, or at least sympathized with, the goals of designated foreign terrorist organizations in Syria and elsewhere is a necessary aspect of the defense’s mitigation investigation. But without access to what the government knows about Mr. Saipov’s contacts’ interaction with and support for radical Islamism, the defense is at a clear disadvantage.”

NPR: Former Charlottesville Mayor Shares Painful Lessons From Fight Against Hate

“It was late August in Charlottesville, Va., two years ago this month, with temperatures pushing into the high 80s. But what then-Mayor Mike Signer remembers most vividly about those days is the cold.  He'd walk into rooms and instantly feel a chill, an iciness, from townsfolk who had lost faith in their leadership. Sometimes people cried, sometimes they screamed. “You had a whole city that basically needed therapy,” Signer said. At the time, less than a month had passed since hundreds of racists descended on Charlottesville for a violent rally that came to symbolize the dangers of a reinvigorated white supremacist movement. Signer, as mayor, was the face of the city's response. And when the tiki torches and hateful chants spiraled into clashes and a deadly car ramming, Signer became the face of the city's many failures. An independent review found that officials had botched security and communication for the rally; Signer didn't seek a second term. He has repeatedly blamed police for the missteps in planning and response, but, overall, he acknowledges that as head of the local government, he bears responsibility. And he's spent much of the past two years on a mission that seems equal parts education and atonement.”

Syria

Al Monitor: How Syrians In Kurdish Areas Get Rid Of Extremism

“A number of rigged motorcycles and car bombs, for which the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, have recently shaken up Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, killing a number of civilians and military personnel and injuring others, and causing significant material damage. The attacks have pushed the authorities in the area, which is controlled by the Kurdish-led autonomous administration, to launch a crackdown against IS cells that remain active despite the group’s defeat. The military council in Hasakah province announced Aug. 1 the arrest of gunmen, including one Iraqi, affiliated with IS in the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Ghuwairan in Hasakah city. According to security sources and eyewitnesses who spoke to the media, large quantities of weapons, highly explosive phosphorus and other raw materials for making improvised explosive devices were confiscated. Detainees were transferred to detention centers and investigations are still ongoing. The crackdown coincided with an aerial landing of coalition forces in al-Haddadiya in al-Shadadi countryside, targeting and arresting a wanted IS operative.”

Iraq

The Jerusalem Post: 1 Killed, 29 Injured After Explosions Reported At Iraqi Shia Milita Base

“One person was killed and 29 others were injured after explosions were reported at a base of Iranian-backed Shia militias south of Baghdad, Iraq, according to Sky News Arabia. Shortly after, shells fell in the Green Zone of Baghdad where the American Embassy in Iraq is located, according to Sky News Arabia. The Iraqi Ministry of Health earlier said 13 people were injured in the explosion, according to the Iranian IRNA news agency. An Al Mayadeen correspondent reported that the explosions were caused by shells hitting the base held by al Hashd ash-Sha'abi or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) located in the Abu Dshir area, according to preliminary information. Al-Ain news reported that an unidentified aircraft carried out the attack on the base to which the PMU recently transferred heavy weapons and missiles. Video from the site showed clouds of smoke billowing from one of the weapons stores belonging to the PMU. Reuters reported that the explosions were caused by a large fire at the weapons depot and injured 14 people when rockets stored in the depot went off and hit neighborhoods in the area. A police source said the fire was probably caused by negligence leading to poor storage conditions and high temperatures, according to Reuters.”

The National: Ordeal Continues For Shiite Turkmen Women Kidnapped By ISIS

“On a hot night at the beginning of July, Ceylan climbed onto the roof of her aunt’s house. She sat alone, looking at the dark sky and the stars speckled across it, and began to cry. “I went up at 10pm and came down at 1am, and I was crying all of that time. It was a kind of depression,” she says. “This has happened to me several times. If I don’t cry, I feel suffocated.” The 17-year-old, who asked that her real name not be used, was one of about 450 Shiite Turkmen women and girls kidnapped from Tal Afar by ISIS militants as they overran northern Iraq five years ago this month.  The few who have returned – just 44 so far, 22 of them young women and girls like Ceylan – tell of being subjected to similar sexual abuse as that which ISIS inflicted on thousands of women from Iraq’s Yazidi community. But unlike the Yazidis, the Shiite Turkmen survivors have not been officially welcomed back by religious authorities, contributing to the stigma that they face in their community. This, together with their smaller number, has meant their suffering at the hands of ISIS hands has gone largely untold and unreported. Ceylan never shows her sadness in front of what remains of her family, so she seeks solitude in which to weep.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: As U.S. Nears A Pullout Deal, Afghan Army Is On The Defensive

“As the United States appears to be nearing a deal with the Taliban on pulling its troops from Afghanistan, the country’s security forces are in their worst state in years — almost completely on the defensive in much of the country, according to local military commanders and civilian officials. Afghan commanders vowed last year to take the offensive, rather than go on fighting a static “checkpoint war.” But in most major battlegrounds, the bulk of the regular Afghan forces are still holed up in fortified bases and outposts. Most offensive operations have been left to small numbers of Afghan and American Special Operations soldiers, backed by both countries’ air forces. The woeful state of the regular Afghan forces has been widely seen as giving the Taliban a valuable edge in its negotiations with the United States, which have gone on for eight rounds in Doha, Qatar, and are believed to be near a conclusion. An announcement could come as early as Tuesday but also may be delayed, perhaps for weeks. An analysis of more than 2,300 combat deaths of government forces, compiled in daily casualty reports by The New York Times from January through July, found that more than 87 percent occurred during Taliban attacks on bases, checkpoints or command centers.”

ABC News: No Deal Announced As US, Taliban Wrap Up Latest Talks

“The latest round of talks between the Taliban and the United States ended early Monday without any sign a peace deal had been reached for Afghanistan, as both sides said they would consult with their leaderships on the next steps. A Taliban spokesman had said last week that this eighth round of talks would conclude with a deal to end the nearly 18-year war, America's longest. The two sides have been discussing an agreement under which U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban would guarantee the country would not revert to being a launch pad for global terrorist attacks. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the talks that began on Aug. 3 in the Gulf nation of Qatar were “productive” and that he was heading to Washington for consultations. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called the discussions “long and useful.” Neither provided details on their outcome. The Taliban have continued to stage near-daily attacks across Afghanistan despite the months of negotiations with the U.S. The attacks mainly target Afghan forces and government officials but also kill many civilians . The U.S. has pressed for a cease-fire and a framework for inter-Afghan talks, but so far the insurgents have refused to recognize the Afghan government, dismissing it as a U.S. puppet.”

The Diplomat: How Islamic State Infiltrated Kabul University

“In September 2018, Ghulam Abas, coach of Maiwand wrestling club in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of Kabul, was training athletes when an Islamic State suicide bomber opened fire on the guard. As he rushed to open the emergency door, the bomb denoted in the club, which was packed with athletes. Abas lost his left arm but survived; 20 of his young trainees were killed and 70 others wounded. In July 2019, Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), arrested four suspects on charges of designing the attack on the wrestling club. The suspects were not from Afghanistan’s rural areas — they were lecturers and students at the country’s largest university: Kabul University. “We do not expect students of Kabul University to target our club,” said Abas. “Students of Kabul University are expected to build a bright future for the country and run the country tomorrow.” Ghulam Abas, the 51-year-old coach of a wrestling club in Kabul, lost his arm in a terrorist attack allegedly masterminded by Kabul University Students. Photo by Ezzatullah Mehrdad. Amid raging insurgency in the country, people pin their hope on the partially U.S.-funded Kabul University to educate a liberal and open-minded generation.”

Pakistan

The New York Times: Pakistan’s Envoy Suggests Kashmir Crisis Could Affect Afghan Peace Talks

“Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States raised the possibility Monday that his country might redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Kashmir frontier, a shift that could complicate American peace talks with the Taliban. Such a possibility, coming just as Pakistan’s longstanding Kashmir crisis with India has escalated, could add a new element to the peace negotiations, which are said to be in the final stages and would end nearly two decades of American military entanglement in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s ambassador, Asad Majeed Khan, emphasized in an interview with The New York Times editorial board that the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues were separate and that he was not attempting to link them. On the contrary, he said, Pakistan hoped the American talks with the Taliban would succeed and that his country was actively supporting them. “We are doing all that we can and will continue,” Mr. Khan said. “It’s not an either-or situation.” Nonetheless, Mr. Khan said, India’s crackdown on the disputed region of Kashmir, on Pakistan’s eastern border with India, “could not have come at a worse time for us,” because the Pakistanis have sought to strengthen military control along the western border with Afghanistan, an area long infiltrated by Taliban militants, as part of the effort to help end the Afghanistan conflict by denying the group a safe haven.”

Nigeria

Xinhua: 12 Killed In Gunfight Between Nigerian Troops, Boko Haram Militants

“Eight Boko Haram militants and two Nigerian soldiers were killed following a gunfight between troops and the terror group in the troubled northeastern state of Borno, according to military sources on Monday. Two civilians later died after being hit by stray bullets during the crossfire late Saturday in Gubio, around 80 km north of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, said the sources who asked to be anonymous. The gunfight lasted for about five hours, as the militants attempted to overrun a military base in Gubio town. Xinhua's sources, however, said the military successfully repelled the attack. “Many other Boko Haram fighters were wounded. They fled due to the military's strong firepower,” one source said. A gun truck belonging to the Boko Haram group, as well as other weapons, which they abandoned, were recovered after the troops had successfully thwarted the attack. Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno also confirmed the gunfight, saying the government was providing necessary logistic support to troops to ensure total victory over Boko Haram. Mohammed Abdullahi, a leader of the government-backed militia group, the Civilian Joint Task Force, told Xinhua that their combined effort with troops led to the triumph over the fleeing Boko Haram fighters.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Children Of British ISIS Members Will Not Be Allowed To Return To UK, Government Rules

“Children of British Isis members stranded in Syria will not be allowed to return to the UK, the government has reportedly decided.  At least 30 British children are currently being held with their mothers in camps in northern Syria, after being detained as they fled the crumbling Isis caliphate. The government has been under pressure to bring them home from the dangerous and overcrowded camps, both from local Syrian authorities and from the Trump administration. Earlier this year the infant son of Shamima Begum, the teenager who fled her home in Bethnal Green to join Isis, died weeks after arriving at one of the facilities.  The former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt had said following the death that the government was working with the then international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, on whether the children could be safely returned. But Sajid Javid, the former home secretary, concluded after a review that it would be too dangerous to send officials to retrieve the children from Syria, according to The Times – despite the camps being regularly visited by British aid workers and journalists. A number of European countries have repatriated stranded children, however. France, Germany, Norway and Denmark have all brought a small number back, most of whom were orphans whose parents were killed during the caliphate’s final months.”

France

France 24: Paris Attacks Suspect Charged Over Brussels Suicide Bombings

“Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks, has been formally charged in connection with the Brussels suicide bombings months later, federal prosecutors said Monday. Abdeslam was charged with “participating in the activities of a terrorist group,” the federal prosecutor's office told AFP, confirming reports in the Belgian media in recent days. The prosecutor's office did not give details of his alleged role in the suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station on March 22, 2016, which killed 32 people and wounded 340 others. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks which occurred within an hour of each other. Investigators say the attacks were ordered from Syria and organised by a French-Belgian cell in Brussels, which was also behind the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds of others. In April, a Belgian court sentenced Abdeslam to 20 years in prison over a gun battle with police in Brussels that led to his capture days before the Brussels suicide bombings. Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national who hails from the Brussels Molenbeek neighbourhood, is being held in jail in France pending a separate trial over the Paris attacks.”

The National: UN Investigator Rebukes France Over Extremist Captives In Iraq

“A UN human rights expert chided France on Monday for its possible role in the transfer of seven suspected terrorists from Syria to Iraq, but the European country's Foreign Ministry dismissed her concerns as speculation. The seven French nationals were arrested by the Syrian Democratic Forces before being transferred to Iraq in February, and UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard accused the French government of being involved. Ms Callamard said the men were sentenced to death after “unfair trials” in Iraq. She urged France to repatriate the men so they receive justice. “I am particularly disturbed by allegations that France may have had a role in this transfer, given the risk involved of torture and unfair trials, and that they would likely face the death penalty,” Ms Callamard said. She also described the Iraqi justice system as being “marred by very serious structural problems”. France opposes the death penalty. Its Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “not sustained, are pure speculation and are hers only”. The ministry reaffirmed the government’s position that citizens who joined ISIS should be tried near to where crimes were committed. It said Iraq was aware that France opposed capital punishment and it asked that the death penalty was not applied.”

Europe

The Washington Post: How An Unarmed 65-Year-Old Stopped A Gunman From Attacking A Norwegian Mosque

“A 65-year-old former Pakistani military officer is being credited with thwarting an attack at a mosque in Norway after he tackled a heavily armed gunman who allegedly stormed into the house of worship with the intent of carrying out a mass shooting motivated by hatred of Muslims. Mohammad Rafiq said he threw the gunman to the ground after the man entered the al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum near the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Saturday, before the two other men inside the mosque rushed to help him pin down the gunman. Rafiq’s quick action helped avert an attack that brought back painful memories of the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand this year, when a gunman attacked two mosques and killed 51 people during Friday prayers. “There is no doubt that the swift and firm response from the persons inside the mosque stopped the aggressor,” acting police station chief Rune Skjold said in a statement. “These persons showed great courage.” The attempted attack on the al-Noor center happened a day before Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage. Rafiq and the two others had been at the al-Noor mosque preparing for the festivities.”

Yahoo News: Norway Mosque “Terror Attack” Suspect Remanded In Custody

“A Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and opening fire in a mosque near Oslo this weekend was remanded in custody Monday, suspected of murder, and a “terrorist act” that police say he filmed himself. The man, identified as 21-year old Philip Manshaus, appeared in the Oslo court with two black eyes and scrapes and bruises on his face, neck and hands, probably obtained when he was overpowered at the mosque. Police say he has “extreme right views” and “xenophobic positions” and that he had filmed the mosque attack with a GoPro camera mounted on a helmet. The Norway incident comes amid a rise in white supremacy attacks around the world. Manshaus is formally suspected of murdering his 17-year-old stepsister, and of a “terrorist act” at the Al-Noor mosque on Saturday, allegations he has rejected. In Norway, being formally named as a suspect is a step prior to indictment. Manshaus entered the courtroom smiling to cameras, wearing dark clothes and his hair cut short. He asked to be released, his lawyer Unni Fries said after the hearing. “He rejects the allegations and exercises his right to not explain himself,” she said. The court cited “reasonable grounds” to suspect Manshaus had committed the criminal acts and remanded him in custody for four weeks, as police had requested.”

China

The Wall Street Journal: China Says Hong Kong Protests Show ‘First Signs Of Terrorism’

“Chinese authorities condemned violent weekend demonstrations in Hong Kongas “deranged” acts that marked the emergence of “the first signs of terrorism” in the semiautonomous city, vowing a merciless crackdown on the perpetrators. The escalating rhetoric from Beijing followed a day of heated protests in Hong Kong, including the hurling of petrol bombs, and came as thousands of protesters gathered at Hong Kong’s international airport on Monday, prompting officials to cancel all flights for the rest of the day apart from those already en route to the air-travel hub.”Radical Hong Kong protesters have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers,” a spokesman for the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office told a news briefing on Monday, according to Chinese state media. “The first signs of terrorism are starting to appear.” On Sunday, police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of protesters across Hong Kong, some of whom threw bricks and what police identified as Molotov cocktails and smoke bombs. Police said an officer was hospitalized with burns to his legs after being hit by a Molotov cocktail hurled by a protester.”

Southeast Asia

Fair Observer: The Radical Right Makes A Comeback In Sri Lanka

“Opposition to the postwar liberal world order seems like the new back to normal, as it is based on a natural impulse to shut out the feared “other” in order to be safe, rather than recklessly open and vulnerable. Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky notes why this back to normal is natural and instinctive. He cites John Mitrani to examine “human group identity … in-group bias … [and also] the biological and cognitive underpinnings that shape them.” With populist nationalism making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, along with authoritarian states trying to reshape the functioning of the liberal world order, the debate is heavily centralized around Europe and the US, with a similar focus paid to their authoritarian contenders such as China and Russia. In this climate, one can only wonder how these trends play out on the global fringes. For instance, the radical right has made a rousing comeback in Sri Lanka, fed by two highly-visible phenomena: finding the enemy in Islam and populist nationalism.   The Brigade of the Great Graveyard Demon (MSB) sounds like something from a horror movie. Known as Mahason Balakaya in Sinhalese, the group was named after an ancient mythical being, most probably a local version adapted from the “Egyptian Book of the Dead,” which reveals some aspects of the pseudo-belief system of the radical right.”